iASK-CAB, the coalition formed by the Village of Irvington’s long-standing Community Advisory Board, is continuing to build on the momentum of its first year. The coalition brings together all sectors of our community to provide youth and their families with the information and skills needed to keep teens happy and safe.
The year kicked off with a visit from Ty Sells, a nationally recognized speaker from Youth to Youth International.
Mr. Sells visited the high school as part of a school-wide assembly followed by a day of student workshops to educate and train our youth on current drug issues. He also worked directly with the Peer Leadership Program to provide training on how to effectively communicate with peers. Mr. Sells’ visit concluded with an evening forum for the community that was well attended by both parents and teens on the topic of Connecting with Teens.
An integral component of the coalition’s work also continues to focus on youth leadership. Many activities and events are spearheaded by youth in response to the feedback from peers and an understanding of their community. Over the course of the year, students have led pledge campaigns and awareness activities aimed at reminding their peers to make healthy choices. Most recently, middle school students visited two local pizza stores to implement a sticker campaign.
Youth coalition members will continue to operate the Safe Rides program which provides free, safe and confidential rides home to teens. It is a safety net that can be used in many different situations – a bad date, a late dinner, a broken down car. It is also designed to prevent incidents due to drinking and driving. Students plan and run the program from recruiting members and offering training to working the evening as drivers and/or dispatchers in conjunction with trained adults.
The coalition has been fortunate to have active youth leaders that participate in regional and national trainings. A dozen middle school students participated in the Youth to Youth Leadership Conference in which students from all parts of the County convened to share experiences and attend workshops/trainings to bring back to their own communities.
The coalition also sponsored two high school students to represent Irvington at the CADCA (Community Anit-Drug Coalition of America) National Leadership Forum in Washington D.C. Nearly 2,700 substance abuse prevention and treatment specialists from throughout the country convened to attend workshops and trainings throughout the week in which sessions were held for both adults and youth. In addition, our students represented the iASK-CAB coalition on Capitol Hill Day, meeting with Representative Nita Lowey’s office to emphasize the need and importance of our coalition’s work.
The coalition’s work within the community continues to grow. One of the efforts during the year has been to implement prescription drug take-back days within the community. Prescription drug abuse is the fastest-growing drug problem in the country. Many teens mistakenly think medicines in the home medicine cabinet are safer to abuse than illegal drugs. A large percentage of teens abusing medicines get them from a family member or friend, often without their knowledge. Safely disposing of unwanted and expired medicines by using a take-back program keeps these medicines out of the hands of teens.
iASK-CAB’s first collection of 2016 in early March yielded approximately 25 lbs of unused and/or expired medication.
The coalition has also undertaken a postcard campaign to provide the community with important information regarding marijuana. The series of eight postcards will be mailed to every household in Irvington over the course of four months, each containing facts related to the theme of the week.
The coalition is looking forward to continuing its work and engaging with the community to support our youth in making healthy choices. Coming up on March 14, Michael Nerney (an internationally recognized speaker on substance use/abuse prevention) will be addressing student athletes at the high school followed by an evening forum for parents and all community members. His presentations will focus on the impact of alcohol/drug use and stress on the brain. This free forum is open to the community.
iASK-CAB relies on dedicated members who are interested in providing support to our youth. The success of iASK-CAB’s efforts depends on the support and involvement of the entire community! To get involved and for more information visit the website (www.iASK-CAB.org) and follow on Facebook and Twitter. For questions, contact info@iASK-CAB.org.